The plan put forward by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition to reform the Lower House electoral system is only a partial step that shelves the fundamental overhaul needed to close the sharp disparity of votes across electoral districts, as proposed by a panel of experts advising the speaker of the chamber, for several more years. The bill to amend the Public Offices Election Law to cut 10 Lower House seats and redraw some electoral districts will likely clear the Diet during its current session on the strength of the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito alliance. But the administration and the coalition still need to explain why voters have to wait longer for the more fundamental reform.
The LDP-Komeito bill, which the Diet began deliberating on Friday, will trim the number of Lower House seats from the current 475 to 465 by cutting six from the 295 seats allocated to single-seat constituencies and four others from the 180 elected through regional proportional representation. The six seats will be cut from Aomori, Iwate, Mie, Nara, Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures. Electoral districts in these prefectures will then be redrawn so the maximum gap in the value of votes between constituencies across the country will fall within 2 to 1 based on the 2015 national census.
However, a new method of distributing Lower House seats in ways that more accurately reflect the population breakdown across prefectures — which the third-party experts panel called for in its recommendations to the Lower House speaker in January — will be introduced on the basis of the next census to be held in 2020. This will mean that it would take at least a few more years after the 2020 census for a Lower House election to be held under the new method.
Full Article: Insufficient electoral reform | The Japan Times.